When considering the sale of your home, it’s never too early to start planning the necessary steps to get your home in its best condition for the market. Getting your home ready for the market requires thorough research and planning to ensure you achieve the highest return on your investment. Time and money are precious commodities, and nobody wants to waste them!
In a buyer’s market, where competition can be fierce, effective planning is crucial. Before listing your house, it’s essential to ensure it stands up to similar homes in your market. Even in a seller’s market, maximizing your home’s value and appeal is key to securing the highest and best sale. Determining whether it is a buyer’s market or a seller’s market significantly influences your selling strategy.
Before putting your home on the market, sellers need to grasp two major considerations: 1) how to get your home in its best condition, both inside and out, and 2) how to price the home effectively. The time needed to get your home market-ready varies based on its current condition.
Table of Contents
- 🏡 What Should You Do to Get Your House Ready to Sell?
- 💻 Do Your Research on Home Renovations and Repairs
- 👪 Learn What Today’s Home Buyers Want
- ‼️ Emphasize the Positive
- ⚖Consider Return-On-Investment
- 🌻 Update Outside the House – Curb Appeal
- 👣 Five Steps to Captivate Buyers with Curb Appeal
- 🛏 Preparing the Inside of the Home for a Quick Sale
- ✨ Prioritize Cleaning
- Prepare Before Every Showing
- How to get your home ready to sell
🏡 What Should You Do to Get Your House Ready to Sell?
Many sellers feel overwhelmed by the tasks required to prepare their homes for sale. Some do the bare minimum, while others overspend on improvements that may not pay off. Finding a balance is key to success, and it largely depends on your market. In competitive markets, additional upgrades may be necessary to make your home stand out. Understanding the demands of your specific area and price range requires thorough research.
💻 Do Your Research on Home Renovations and Repairs
Before investing in repairs and renovations, sellers should conduct thorough research. Your home needs to align with the neighborhood standard to compete in the local market. If the average home in your price range lacks expensive upgrades, investing in them might not yield a significant return. Similarly, neglecting common upgrades in your area could affect your home’s value. Consulting with an experienced local listing agent is invaluable—they are well-versed in the local market and can provide insights into your competition.
Always consult a Realtor® well in advance of listing your home. They can guide you on spending your resources wisely.
Vice-versa, if you skimp on the upgrades that every house around you has, your neighbors will appreciate you for helping them sell their house before yours. You can skimp, but just don’t expect to get the same amount for your home.
For instance, most homes in Greenville that are listed for sale will have at least one or two updated bathrooms. Homeowners also often invest in new doors and windows to improve the overall curb appeal and energy efficiency of their homes before selling. Luckily, you can easily find trusted Greenville window and door replacement experts who can help you upgrade your home within a reasonable budget. Understanding what is standard and expected in your local market will help you make informed decisions on what repairs and renovations to focus on.
This is one of the reasons why you need to consult an experienced local listing agent. They are in the local market, 365 days a year, seeing the homes that are listed. They will know your competition.
It’s always best to consult a Realtor® weeks or even months before you want to list your home. They can help you spend your dollars, time, and effort wisely.
👪 Learn What Today’s Home Buyers Want
Considerable effort is spent researching what today’s buyers desire. According to a recent Realtor Magazine article, the top ten wish-list items include:
- Large kitchens with islands
- Energy efficiency, including energy-efficient appliances, super insulation, and high-efficiency windows.
- Home offices
- Main-floor master suite
- Outdoor living space
- Adequate Storage
- Soaking tub in the master suite and/or an oversized shower with a seating area
- Stone and brick exteriors rather than stucco or vinyl
- Community walking paths and playgrounds
- Two-car garages, but three-car garages are even more desirable
It’s unlikely your home will have all these features, but if you do, emphasize them in your marketing. If not, focus on highlighting the positives rather than spending extensively on creating features that don’t exist.
‼️ Emphasize the Positive
Accentuate any desirable features in your home in your marketing efforts. If certain features are lacking, don’t fret—focus on showcasing what you do have. Avoid spending excessively on creating features that aren’t present. Conduct thorough research if you decide to invest in your home.
Part of your research should analyze your return on investment (ROI) for various upgrades and repairs. Each year, Remodeling puts out a Cost Vs. Repair evaluation for nine regions of the country. Frederick Maryland is considered part of the Washington D.C. Metro area. When studying these reports, homeowners will see that some repairs and improvements have a higher ROI than others.
Interestingly, a simple upgrade like replacing the front door often provides the highest return. Here are some other suggestions on the most important improvements to get a good return on your investment.
🌻 Update Outside the House – Curb Appeal
Sometimes sellers grow accustomed to the look of their homes. It can be helpful to have another opinion when trying to decide what projects to take on and how much work is needed when the subject of curb appeal comes up.
Remember that more than 95% of today’s buyers are looking at various real estate websites. You want to make sure that photos of your home grab buyers’ interest. First impressions matter in photos as well as in real life. Make sure your curb appeal is on point in your photos. [professional photography makes a huge difference!]
The psychology behind great curb appeal is pretty simple:
As a seller, you want your home to be attractive, appealing, and welcoming. Most of the time, achieving that can be very simple. You want to accentuate positives and minimize negatives.
The negatives you want to minimize are also simple: You don’t want the buyer to say to themselves, There’s one more thing I’m going to have to do if I buy this house.”
That’s a comment a seller never wants to generate from the buyer. They should rather hear, “I love this house, I could just move right in!”
So how do you get the second comment?
👣 Five Steps to Captivate Buyers with Curb Appeal
1. Clean up and declutter. Most of the work is usually in this category.
- Trim back trees, bushes, and sidewalk edges, and thin-out overgrown beds. (Think of it as a haircut, although more of a trim, not a drastic head-shave:) You don’t want the buyer to say, wow, I’m going to have to trim all this back when I move in.
- Rent, borrow, or buy a power washer and clean up sidewalks, porches, decks, and siding. You’ll be amazed at what a difference a clean surface makes.
- Make sure the grass stays mowed while your home is on the market.
- A fresh coat of paint or stain. Any wood should be freshly cleaned and stained. Again, the buyer will notice and count it as a positive that they won’t have to add it to their list of things to do after moving in. As this list grows, so does the dollar amount a buyer subtracts from their offer!
- The front door and trim are a first impression. You want it to say, The owners love this house and take good care of it.”
- Make sure shutters have been repaired if needed and have a fresh coat of paint. Tired shutters will make all your other efforts look drab.
- The door handle and lighting should be newer and in keeping with the style of the house. Don’t be afraid to light up the entryway for those night-time showings.
3. Before you do anything else…paint the front door! It’s amazing how a fresh clean coat of paint on the door and trim will make a huge difference. First impressions count.
4. Create a focal point at the front door. If you have room for seating, add a cozy chair or a bench. Add a wreath of flowers on the door. The idea is to create a sense of welcome. If the door is dated, paint it or replace it.
5. Add color with flowers. If you don’t have space to plant some annuals, then put out pots of colorful flowers around the entryway. Colorful flowers are a delight to the eyes and senses, and they say a big “Hello”.
6. Repair any problems with driveways, sidewalks, or brick or stone edging. Patch and seal for a finished look.
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None of these projects have to be expensive and exhausting. Curb appeal often just takes a little elbow grease. And make sure you don’t overdo the colors or the flowers, you don’t want to overwhelm your visitors, you just want to make them feel welcome. Welcome enough to want to stay!
🛏 Preparing the Inside of the Home for a Quick Sale
Many years ago, after spending a wonderful, yet intensive weekend with some relocation clients, after criss-cossing Frederick County for 3 days, seeing a dozen homes in all sorts of conditions, and seeing first-hand our buyer’s responses, I came up with some tips for Frederick home sellers trying to get their homes ready to sell.
I’d like to talk more about the psychology behind the tips. You can find great preparation and staging tips all over the internet, but the real value is in getting an understanding of the mind of a buyer. Seeing through their eyes will be very helpful to you when you are staging your Frederick home for sale.
✨ Prioritize Cleaning
The most important thing that sellers need to remember is that in a buyer’s market, the inventory is on the high side. That means there is more competition.
Sellers need to realize that the best-looking and best-priced homes are the ones that will sell. It’s that simple. Your home must look the best it can. You have to be vigilant about Dirt and Clutter.
When buyers see dirt, the natural assumption is, “If they can’t clean their house for a showing, I wonder what other deferred maintenance issues I might have to deal with?” In their mind, a dirty house is not a house that has been cared for.
Shampoo or replace the carpet. If it is permanently stained, worn, or dated, replace it. Get a neutral shade, “Tea Stain” is our favorite, in an affordable grade; it needn’t be a top-of-the line. [click on the image for carpet cleaning tips –>]
Clutter is also something that absolutely must be tackled. Buyers have a hard time seeing themselves and their stuff in your house if they can’t see past the clutter. Clutter also makes the space look smaller than it is. Here’s my thought: You’re moving anyway, so why not pack up most of your stuff and live lightly for a few weeks?
Don’t forget about odors. Because we get used to the smells that are familiar, like cooking spices, or athletic gear, it’s always a good idea to invite a friend over to get an opinion from a fresh nose, so to speak. You want to eliminate odors that are pungent, even if they smell good, like perfume, in favor of fresh, clean, and mild.
Since we’re talking about odors, you also want to make sure you clean in advance of the showings and allow time for the odor of your cleaners to dissipate. The chemical smells can be offensive.
Consider using a professional cleaning service. Many professional cleaners are adept at not only regular cleaning but also deep cleaning for preparation for selling a home. Your real estate agent should have a cleaner to refer.
Prepare Before Every Showing
Once you have done the heavy work of preparing your home for the real estate market and your home is listed, the work isn’t done. It is crucial to keep your home in its best condition for the duration. Make the effort to prepare your home for every showing, and you will benefit from less time on the market. It may seem like a lot of work, but if you create systems that are convenient and easy to follow, you will have success.
- Use laundry baskets to quickly collect items and clutter that naturally comes with living.
- Keep a caddy with cleaning supplies handy for a quick clean-up before you leave the house.
- Clean more often so you don’t have a build-up of dirt and clutter. This way, when you have a last-minute showing, you won’t have a mountain of chores to do.
- Get the whole family involved. The more cooperation you get, the quicker you get results.
How to get your home ready to sell
Rely on your listing agent’s experience and local market knowledge for guidance on preparing your home for a quick sale. Take their advice seriously, and use this preparation time as an opportunity to organize, pack, and emotionally prepare for your move.